Once upon a time, the school lunchbox was basic, tin and probably plastered with garrish action figures or boy band members. Nowadays, they’re a LOT cuter – and we have brands like boo+crew to thank. haven went Behind the Brand with boo+crew director Nicole McDonald to find out the story behind one of our favourite lunchbox labels…
What was your inspiration to start your own business?
The main inspiration was my two children. I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked on my own and for my husband’s business over the years, which has given me a real insight into the freedom and flexibility of making my own working hours. To be present at school events and able to drive them around to their after school activities and work at night if need be has been the biggest inspiration.
The other main driver has been my longing to make a positive difference to the environment. I’ve had this since I was a child and it has grown louder as I’ve gotten older and had kids of my own. Now, with bushfires raging across our beautiful country and climate change a daily reality it is driving this mission of mine stronger than ever.
When did you know the timing was ‘right’?
There was no actual “right timing”, it was more out of frustration with my previous business selling handmade bags and accessories. There were a few factors I struggled with: sustainability, time management, low pay just to name a few. As I hit a real low point with it, this wonderful idea of a sustainable, practical and fun lunchbox emerged and once it did I ran with it and haven’t looked back since.
How did you make your big break?
It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m hoping it will this year – I only started in January of 2019 so this baby is still very young. So far I’ve had such beautiful support and interest from young families and small businesses, but things have gone far from smoothly so I am grateful for the very many lessons I’ve learnt. Looking back I wouldn’t have been ready nor prepared for the “big break” but watch out, this could be the year!
What was your training prior to starting your own business?
I have had no formal training in business and had my kids very young – my son at 21 and my daughter at 25. I’ve worked as an assistant in law firms and my husband’s business, studied shoe design and production and have run my own handmade business for six years. English is also my second language as I was born and raised in Switzerland. I might be doing this the hard way but I think running a business requires you to do and learn so many different skills, especially when you start out. In many ways I’ve drawn wisdom and skills from all and some.
What are the biggest challenges of being a mum and a businesswoman?
The biggest one is being fully present with my kids. As I am mostly working from home, it’s easy to get distracted thinking about work related things. Cash flow is another big challenge – this isn’t a 9-5 job with a weekly paycheck. It’s also tough taking time off and feeling guilty when it gets really busy.
What is your top tip for maintaining a work/life balance?
I try and designate certain times and days to family activities, and we always sit and have dinner together which helps. For me family always comes first, even if that means working until 1am.
What is your biggest learning since starting your own business?
The toughest lessons teach and humble you the most. If you don’t learn to become resilient you’re not going to make it. Starting a business involves so much time, effort, blood, sweat and tears but if you believe in what you do you come out the other end a stronger, better person.
What do you do in your spare time to keep yourself sane?
On tough days I go for a run – it always helps clear my mind and sometimes I even come up with great solutions. I meditate most days and try to do yoga once a week (note to self: I need to get back into it!), and chatting to my husband and best friends is always chicken soup for the soul.
What’s one thing other mums/dads should do who are looking to start their own business?
Research and dig deep. You really need to take your time and do some soul searching. I believe you need to find something that gives you purpose and meaning on a deeper level to get you through those though patches otherwise you run out of fuel sooner or later. We all have great ideas but to make them reality takes insane amounts of time, effort and finances. You really want to make sure this rings all your bells.
WIN // Want your very own boo+crew lunchbox?! haven has teamed up with boo+crew to give you the chance to win a boobox lunchbox (in the design of your choice) valued at $49! Entries close Friday February 28 at midnight, and only the winner will be notified. Good luck!